When Anam Javed from the Islamic Council of Victoria heard about the Manchester bombing last Monday, she braced herself for the deluge of hostile phone calls the organisation would inevitably receive.
Anam is secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria and she spoke about the challenges of living in Australia as a young Muslim woman at the annual Justice and International Mission Unit social justice convention, held on Saturday 27 May.
This year’s convention was titled ‘Building Bridges, not Walls’, which alluded to the growing political polarisation in the global context and the shift in some countries towards xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist policies.
Approximately 100 people attended the convention, held at the Centre for Theology and Ministry.
The convention was slightly different this year as there was a larger selection of workshops and themed discussions were facilitated by the participants themselves.
The guest speakers included Joe Camilleri, emeritus professor at La Trobe University and executive director of Alexandria Agenda, a new venture in ethical consulting; Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, a teacher of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible studies at the Pilgrim Theological College; and Anam Javed.
Participants found Anam’s speech about living in Australia as a young Muslim woman from a Pakistani background particularly moving.
She spoke about the frequency with which she is questioned about the actions of a few people who happen to be the same religion as her, despite them being geographically and culturally worlds apart. It was a sombre reminder that many young people are bullied by having their identity as Australians questioned due to their culturally diverse backgrounds.
The workshops on offer this year were interactive and diverse. They focused on themes such as refugees and racism, Trump and global tax justice, positivity in a troubled world, a communications masterclass, human rights in our time, community organising, and new ways for taking action on climate change.
Participants who attended the convention remarked that “the workshops and speakers were excellent and thought-provoking” and “the themes discussed at the convention set my mind alight.”